Fear often creates mental images that collaborate presuppositions. Given perfect circumstances these assumptions are often built from a foundation of animus and narrow-mindedness. Such a bugbear can create believable phobias, even ones in which felines are unquestionably the spawn of the devil.
Less than desirable experiences time and again result in predestined grudges and biases toward these common but less than innocent pets. Cat Story (the prequel) introduced my adolescent nightmare, Cat. As a housemate, this fiend ingrained a proclivity of prejudicial fear of Morris, Felix and even Tom, as well as any other owner of paws with claws.
A demon in disguise, Cat, was certain proof that all felines are serial killers hindered only by the lack of opposable thumbs.
Several years and many miles later, cat scratch fever clawed it’s way back into my life.
Listening in terror to the soon-to-be-seven year old standing in front of me, my stomach churned as if I had eaten a bad can of tuna. The trepidation mauled from the inside out as she enthusiastically explained in vivid detail her expected must-have birthday present. Mentally cursing Jim Davis and his cartoon sidekick, Garfield, I swallowed my dismay all while faking excitement as she described her imaginable pet’s details. She was so graphic with the picture book specifics, right down to the white “M” on it’s forehead, that my eyes unconsciously began scanning the room, convinced the horrid beast was there and already planning our passing.
Ashamedly, the worst of invidious scare tactics escaped in a rush of rationalization. Obviously my explanations were ignored as nothing swayed her from her mission. All efforts professing unforgivable wrongdoings involving sharp claws, incessant meowing, peeing on mistaken territory (ergo marking) and deep nips were all in vain as the claims fell on unhearing childish ears.
Her naive attempt was targeted to convince anyone that would listen that “our kitty would be loving and none of those bad things on tv.” Her negotiation strategy was priceless. Still unsure how she deduced scaredy-cat tendencies “as seen on tv.” Nevertheless, the search commenced like a month-long infomercial as everyone wanted to be rid of their not-so-ocherous alley cat.
Finally in the middle of no where, North Carolina, the orange survivor of the nearest Pet Semetary was discovered. Less than 10 minutes after arriving to a secluded no-street-signs-in-site farmhouse, the cat dealer proudly shared that the feral-father lived in the woods but assured me he was probably not a bobcat. Finding a sherbet colored kitten is not nearly as easy as one would believe but in the backwoods of nowhere, apparently a mountain lion can be found on Craigslist.
As my young one frolicked on the back deck in the middle of a dozens potential catamounts, selfishly I coaxed her toward one with white paws and what in appearance looked like the more docile of the wicked creatures. My little vixen rolled around petting and mimicking meows until a hellcat with that foretold prominent white “M” on it’s forehead sank sharp teeth into her tiny hand making attempts to pull her away from it’s siblings.
Hesitantly but decisively, my head found itself nodding approvingly for the on-the-spot adoption as she proclaimed, “this is Ginger.” Even though for all the information the pussy-peddler provided, she had no inclination of the kitten’s sex. This mystery, nonetheless, was revealed weeks later when visiting the vet for the first time. Outcasted as a minion of the devil from the get-go now it’s gender heightened the lack of desire to keep the beast around as the good doctor revealed Ginger was a “HE” not a “she.”
Throwing herself on the floor in mimic of stop, drop, and roll, frightened tears streamed down my daughter’s face. The animal doctor looked from the floor to me to the floor again in shock, clearly not understanding why the writhing child was so distraught.
She picked up her jaw as I picked up my little girl and began the explanation…. Only briefly considering how barbaric the story may paint the self-proclaimed not-afraid-of-anything-feline-bigot at home. We glossed over the scornful directive. His conditions were inarguably clear – we would not own a male cat.
Without a word, the doctor took my weeping progeny and sat her on the examining table next to her furry feline. The next words came out in a rush of sympathy… “Did you know in every boy there is a little girl and in every girl there is a little boy? Ginger,” she said, “may be a boy today but he is going to stay with me for a few days.” She continued, “But don’t you worry… I am going to work some magic and he will be a SHE when you come back to get her.”
Yes, I admit I withheld the sex assigned to Ginger at birth, only divulging what the sweet vet said – our daughter could pick up her girl cat in a few days. (smile)
Note: neutering became the magic operation and the beginning of our transgender cat.
Thus began my alliance and eventually the bond that boarded up the memories of Cat. From boy to girl and often questionably if from feline to canine as the feisty creature is wickedly smart. She comes when called, sits when told, likes her face washed and enjoys two mini dog (yes dog) treats a day. Not to mention, Ginger carries on conversation better than many humans we know.
Lesson learned: cats are smart enough to take over the world which is why God did not give them those opposable thumbs.
Ginger has been a living lesson for my daughter… open-mindedness, equality, and sometimes there is even bad stuff in life (like cleaning out the litter box). There is reason for everything and for everything there is a reason. Bad experiences should teach us caution but should not taint or define us.
Ginger is a constant reminder of this… all should not be judged because of the actions of one.
Had someone told me years ago that we would adopt a four-legged, dander plagued, counter-climbing, meowing machine, I would have suggested therapy. Although today, it is difficult not to chuckle like Pennywise when family and friends skitter away in terror as they refer to her As Satan’s spawn.
But we… well, we call her family.
Ginger our catalyst in overcoming catroversy.
Leave a Reply